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National’s unaffordable promises piling up

National’s campaign is stumbling along as a set of unfunded, ad-hoc announcements which will mean higher debt or more cuts to services like health and education, Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The more National keeps announcing policies that they haven’t got the money for, the more they’ll need to cut essential services like health and education to make their numbers work.

“Their irresponsible approach also puts the recovery at risk. The COVID 19 pandemic is not over, but National has already spent most of the $12 billion Labour has put aside to manage any further outbreaks and support critical responses such as vaccines. 

“National’s plan simply does not add up. Paul Goldsmith set aside only $200 million for unannounced policies in his alternative budget. Since then National has announced;

  • $225 million for skills
  • $116 million for mental health (excluding a previously announced meth plan) 
  • $50 million for the SFO
  • promised to save “every Tourism job”

“They are making it up as they go along. This is a result of National’s internal chaos, with three different leaders in four months, and the absence of any MPs experienced in putting a Budget together. 

“They have overspent the kitty, and are now scrambling to find enough shade to cover where the money is coming from for ideas made up on the fly on the campaign trail.

“Their latest excuse is to say policies will be funded by their new ‘infrastructure bank’. National made at least three policy announcements this week – $600 million for water storage, a promise for a dry dock and tourism infrastructure – where they said funding would come from their new bank.

“Problem is, National’s fiscal plan says nothing about how much it will borrow to set up the bank and provide it with its initial capital.  It’s a bank with no money in it. 

“When they announced it, National said the bank’s equity capital will be provided by the Government, topped up by a raid on Green Investment Finance Ltd, as well as additional borrowing by the bank. None of this is in their fiscal plan. Paul Goldsmith needs to say how much he will put aside for his shiny new bank.

“Labour has always said that National’s fiscal Bermuda Triangle of less revenue, more spending and drastically lower debt can’t work. Paul Goldsmith has put together a plan that is both irresponsible and unaffordable and it gets more so every day.”

“Labour’s top priority is keeping New Zealanders safe. This is a tricky virus that can’t just be ordered to go away. That’s why we’ve kept aside $12 billion in the COVID Fund to deal with the impact if there were to be another outbreak – so that we could support the health response, give businesses certainty, and cushion the blow for households.”

“Equally, a global pandemic is not the time to be putting basic health services at risk. An economic recovery is not the time to put education services at risk. It is not the right time to be running down the COVID Fund for tax cuts, when the rest of the world is experiencing alarming second waves of infection.”